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Old 08-03-2019, 06:11 AM
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Exclamation The Air Force’s B-1 bombers are in more dire shape than we thought

The Air Force’s B-1 bombers are in more dire shape than we thought (Update)
By: Stephen Losey - AirForce Times - 8-2-19
RE: https://www.airforcetimes.com/news/y...an-we-thought/

Photo link: https://www.armytimes.com/resizer/pw...5DITHC6ERE.JPG
Old photo of Lightning strikes behind a B-1B Lancer parked on the flight line as a major storm approaches Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. May 18, 2017. The B-1B is at Tinker AFB undergoing depot level maintenance and has been stripped of the majority of its paint. (Greg Davis/Air Force)

Just six of the Air Force’s fleet of 62 B-1B bombers are now fully mission-capable, Gen. John Hyten told lawmakers Tuesday.

That equates to a readiness rate of a little less than 10 percent of the 62 Lancers the Air Force reported it had in fiscal 2018. That is far less than the 51.75 percent mission-capable rate reported for B-1s in the official mission-capable rates for 2018, suggesting that B-1s are in much worse shape than previously known.

“We saw issues in the B-1 because we’re just beating the heck out of them, deploying them, deploying them,” Hyten told the Senate Armed Services Committee during his nomination hearing to be vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “And so we had to pull back a little bit and get after fixing those issues, and the depots can do that if they have stable funding.”

Hyten said that five of those mission-capable B-1s — which he called “the workhorse of the Air Force today” — are split between Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota and Dyess Air Force Base in Texas. Another is a test aircraft, Hyten said.

Fifteen additional B-1s are in depots for maintenance, Hyten said, and the remaining B-1s “are down for a variety of discrepancies and inspections” at Ellsworth and Dyess.

Military.com reported in April that Air Force Global Strike Command head Gen. Timothy Ray told reporters that the service had “overextended” the B-1 in deployments to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, or the Middle East.

Typically, Ray said, the Air Force would commit about 40 percent of a particular bomber or other combat aircraft to deployments, not counting aircraft in depot maintenance, Military.com reported. Instead, he said, the Air Force has committed 65 to 70 percent of its B-1s for more than a decade.

“So the wear and tear on the crews, the maintainers, and certainly the airplane, that was my cause for asking us to get out of the CENTCOM fight,” Ray said.

The House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee warned in June that B-1 readiness was in dire straits. In their markup of the House’s version of the fiscal 2020 defense policy bill, the lawmakers said the United States’ long-range strike capabilities “may be placed at increased risk by aging structural problems with the B-1,” and that the Lancer wasn’t getting the resources and attention it needed.

That subcommittee said the number of fully mission-capable aircraft had fallen into the single digits, and B-1 aircrew were being diverted to other aircraft because there aren’t enough Lancers for the training they need.

The Air Force has grounded the B-1 fleet twice recently — once last June, and again in late March — over problems with its ejection seats.
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O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

"IN GOD WE TRUST"
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Old 08-03-2019, 06:14 AM
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Exclamation Overtasking of B-1 Lancer Fleet Led to Faster Deterioration, General Says

Overtasking of B-1 Lancer Fleet Led to Faster Deterioration, General Says
By: Oriana Pawlyk - 4-17-19 (the earlier report)
RE: https://www.military.com/daily-news/...eral-says.html

Note: This is the earlier report to the latest thread posted - Boats

The U.S. Air Force overcommitted its B-1B Lancer bomber fleet in Middle East operations over the last decade, causing it to deteriorate more quickly than expected, according to the head of Air Force Global Strike Command.

The bombers were recently called back to the U.S. to receive more upgrades and maintenance to prepare for the next high-end fight.

"We overextended the B-1s in [U.S. Central Command]," Air Force Gen. Timothy Ray, commander of AFGSC, told reporters during a defense writers group breakfast Wednesday in Washington, D.C.

"Normally, you would commit -- [with] any bomber or any modern combat aircraft -- about 40 percent of the airplanes in your possession as a force, [not including those] in depot," he explained. "We were probably approaching the 65 to 70 percent commit rate [for] well over a decade. So the wear and tear on the crews, the maintainers, and certainly the airplane, that was my cause for asking for us to get out of the CENTCOM fight."

Last year, the B-1s returned to the Middle East for the first time in nearly two-and-a-half years to take over strike missions from B-52 Stratofortress bombers. The last rotation of bombers from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, returned home March 11, according to Air Force Magazine.

"A lot of what we were doing was in support of ground forces in the fight against [the Islamic State], and now you know their status," Ray said, referring to the militants' significantly reduced strongholds in both countries. He said he doesn't foresee a "capability gap" despite the fact there are no bombers deployed, because fighters and other aircraft can focus on Middle East operations, particularly in Afghanistan where airstrikes continue.

Ray said the decision to bring the bombers home from the Middle East is in line with former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis' prioritization of the National Defense Strategy "to turn to the high-end conflict" with near-peer militaries such as Russia or China.

But by the end of March, Ray had ordered the stand-down, marking the second fleetwide stand-down in about a year.

AFGSC officials said that, during a routine inspection of at least one aircraft, airmen found a rigged "drogue chute" incorrectly installed in the ejection seat egress system, a problem that might affect the rest of the fleet.

"A drogue shoot 'rights' an ejection seat when it departs … and I didn't like what I saw," Ray said, so he ordered the March 28 stand-down. The issue is "part of the egress system," the way airmen exit the bomber in an emergency.

Ray said his immediate concern was for the aircrews' safety.

"I don't care how bad the readiness is, your personal safety is more important," he said Wednesday.

The B-1 has experienced three setback "events" in about a year's time, Ray said, referring to an emergency landing incident related to an ejection seat issue and two fleetwide groundings, including the most recent one.

In addition to the recent halt in operations, the command grounded the fleet over safety concerns last year, a problem also related to the Lancer's ejection seats. Officials ordered a stand-down on June 7, 2018, which lasted three weeks while the fleet was inspected.

That stand-down was the direct result of an emergency landing made by a Dyess B-1 on May 1, 2018, at Midland Airport in Texas. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson confirmed speculation at the time that the B-1 had to make an emergency landing after an ejection seat didn't blow during an earlier in-flight problem.

Months after that incident, UTC Aerospace Systems, manufacturer of the bomber's ACES II ejection seat, said the seat itself is not the problem, but rather the sequence system.

The B-1 has four seats, for the pilot, co-pilot and two weapons systems officers in the back.

The most recent ejection issue does not appear to be related to the issues that occurred last year, AFGSC has said.

Ray said he expects this stand-down to last a while longer.

"A typical aircraft will take seven to 10 days to inspect … to give a very, very thorough scrub of the egress system," he said, adding that the command so far has not discovered any additional concerns from the inspections.

Ray said the command is inspecting roughly three aircraft a week at Dyess and two a week at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota. The Air Force has 62 Lancers in its fleet. The service plans to retire the bombers in 2036.

"This is going to be a slow and steady process," he said.
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Boats

O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

"IN GOD WE TRUST"
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